Tuesday, June 17, 2014

“When you begin to see that your enemy is suffering, that is the beginning of insight.”

“Through the medium of prayer we go to our enemy, stand by his side, and plead for him to God.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Gospel Text: (MT 5:43-48)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

This is one of the hardest commands to follow. Is this even possible? Practical? Reasonable? Difficult? I sometimes have a hard time loving my family!

Who is my enemy? It could be a difficult co-worker, spouse, neighbor, church committee member or anyone we come in contact with. The world today is busy, over programmed, and more reliant on technology. This can take away the human touch and the caring, thoughtful touch.

Some of the ways to love your enemy include:

Greet people by their name, say hello and smile: A smile is a simple way to demonstrate love and cheerfulness. Say the store clerk’s name, smile and say thank you especially if it’s apparent that he/she is having a stressful day. It can make a big difference.

Get to really know the people in your neighborhood, work place, church and other organizations. The world is a busy place but it can be made smaller. For instance, do you know your neighbors names? Do you know them well enough to be able to offer help when needed?

Pray for the person who irritates you by including them by name in your daily prayer time. Try to see this person as Jesus does. Pray God will bless this person with faith and healing if necessary.

In a challenging work situation, think of a positive thing about the difficult person before a meeting. Focus on strengths the person brings to the gathering. Consider something positive the person offers, especially if it makes the meeting more reasonable and productive. If there is an opportunity for a personal thank you, take it. Note what a difference that effort makes.

Talk to your enemy and get to know them. Put yourself in their shoes. Learn more about them, what they like, and their challenges and find a common interest.

Assume positive intent in dealing with people: assume that they are trying their best have good intentions at heart and they are operating at their best ability. Many situations are negative because we may assume the negative.

We remember Martin Luther King Jr’s words “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”

Remember with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26 is a favorite verse and should be remembered in difficult situations or any tense situations with your enemy. With God’s grace and help we can love our enemies.

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